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Africa needs affordable access to scholarly content to curate and generate new knowledge and provide solutions to local challenges. Local knowledge should also be available at a global level to provide insights into global issues.

The LIBSENSE initiative emerged to exploit the growing trend towards freely available scholarly content, as well as free and open channels for the dissemination of academic information.  In this next step, it will integrate the needs of libraries and NRENs with the strategic development of shared Open Access infrastructure. 

With current and future partners, the African regional RENs will support the LIBSENSE initiative in AfricaConnect3 to open doors for the full participation of new African voices in the scholarly communication landscape. 

At the heart of this movement is the concept that these free and open dissemination channels should become mainstream for academic and research institutions in Africa in order to be equitably shared. 

Specific support will be provided to:

  1. Establish a framework for sustainable Open Access repository and journal development in Africa - Lessons learned from the Africa-wide surveys and workshops demonstrated critical concerns regarding the development and support for librarians’ digital skill sets, especially to support Open Access. In all three regions, (human, technical, and resource) capabilities were seen to be a major issue leading to deficiencies in skill sets.  
    One of the primary reasons for this appeared to be a lack of appropriate institutional support. The second institutional issue was almost unanimously quoted as a lack of sufficient funding. With regards to Open Access, this included a lack of adequate funding for training in OA, for recruiting external expertise for digital skills training, for digital repositories, and digital information resources in general. Additionally, a lack of access to training in Open Movement initiatives in general was reported. The third institutional challenge was policy-related. Both at the institutional and national levels, policy regarding Open Access Repositories was shown to be severely lacking.

    This first activity will, therefore, continue the work of the LIBSENSE workshops by establishing a framework to guide the development of two open access initiatives: Open Access Repositories (OARs) and Open Access Journals (OAJs). Since the community of beneficiaries effectively owns these activities, it is expected that skills and practice will be embedded within the community and thus enable sustainability after the completion of the project.

  2. Operate a shared Open Access repository and a Research Data Management platform - This activity provides a community cloud service in the form of a hosted general-purpose open-access repository for NRENs. Based on software developed under the European OpenAIRE program and operated by CERN, it will allow researchers in African NRENs to deposit data sets, research software, reports, and any other research-related digital artifacts.  

    Customisation of the software is based on the requirements developed in the LIBSENSE workshops and includes features that provide institutional support for data organization and preparation for publication. The overall aim is the management of daily researcher activity in a simplified workflow that encourages open science activity on the one hand and strengthens the integration of digital tools into teaching and research on the other.RENs in Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire are in early stages pilots of National Open Access Repositories in their countries. There are also ongoing discussions to exploit the outcomes in the development of the  RUFORUM Knowledge Hub

  3. Engage with content providers and implement federated identity management for libraries -  The development of groundwork for a full-fledged identity management service (eduID.africa) in AfricaConnect3 will enable LIBSENSE communities to improve access to research portals that provide free or very low-cost access to the major journals such as Research4Life . 

    Another benefit of this activity will be the increased ability of LIBSENSE communities to securely authenticate and identify their users, organise them in groups, assign them roles, and centrally manage access rights for using community resources.